Statistics are lies

A long while ago I read a book titled How to lie with statistics and today mac posted go fish : Truth: it’s what’s for breakfast about a study saying that breast cancer wasn’t more common in women having had an abortion. Now I do not want to write anything on abortion right now because that’s an even trickier topic, instead I am going to rant about statistics.

The book I mentionned above basically says “Don’t believe in any statistics unless you made them up yourself!”

The other day I saw a report on Galileo that said “people who do …. are healthier than people who do not”. My first thought was: what if the people who did … are simply happier which might imply better health as well? Did they really figure in everything? No they did not because that is simply impossible. There’s no study – scientific or not – that doesn’t have a counterpart stating the opposite. It’s like that saying “everything is in the bible if you look hard enough!”

I really believe that there are some good things that you can do for yourself and your health: eating healthy food, not eating unhealthy food, doing some sports, relaxing, having friends over for dinner etc. I think health has a lot to do with attitude. But all these studies saying: “if you do this you are going to live five years longer” or “if you don’t quit that you are going to die in 10 years” … I think it’s a bunch of bullshit.

Every day somebody on TV, in a newspaper article or even someone I know personally is trying to tell me what to do in order that I may be healthier. I have – by now – developed a good dose of fear of chronic illness of all types and so of course every time I hear about this study or that proof of … I am tempted to believe. Once my ‘analytic’ mind starts taking things apart, I find a weak point in everything. I find Terra X, Welt der Wunder, Galileo and their likes very entertaining (it’s Discovery Channel) but I rarely believe the theories published there.

But what’s with the 95% of believers?